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Hot tea showers and asthma attacks: Riders suffer on brutal Mortirolo at Giro d'Italia

Joe Robinson
29 May 2019

Some riders doused themselves in hot tea to keep warm on Mortirolo descent while one rider crashed following asthma attack. Photo: RCS/Giro

The Mortirolo lived up to its fearsome reputation as riders poured hot tea over their legs to escape the freezing weather, with one rider even crashing into a ravine after suffering a severe asthma attack.

Stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia was the Queen Stage with in excess of 4,000m of climbing. This was made ever harder by the brutal weather conditions met by the race on the slopes of the Mortirolo.

By the summit, the race found itself being pounded by heavy rain and freezing conditions making the climb and then the descent even harder.

While those at the head of affairs such as Vincenzo Nibali and race leader Richard Carapaz battled through the weather, the race's gruppetto riders simply found themselves in a battle just to make it to the finish line.

Post-stage, popular Irish rider Conor Dunne (Israel Cycling Academy) took to Twitter to explain how he turned to using hot tea just to keep warm.

Dunne wrote: 'Mortirolo so so cold down that descent... Poured hot tea all over myself to try warm up on the valley road to the finish.'

To make things worse, Dunne added that he was still stuck in traffic leaving the stage finish some hours after finishing.

Groupama-FDJ domestique Jacopo Guarnieri also followed Dunne's lead of using hot tea, writing on his Twitter page: 'Right now... I do not mean that we are heroes, but today, at the bottom of the descent Mortirolo, we were passed hot tea. We were so frozen we poured it on our legs.'


Even those at the front of the race seemed to be suffering from the cold. Eventual stage winner Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) could be seen visibly shaking on the run to the line before outsprinting Jan Hirt of Astana.

However, suffering from the cold paled into insignificance to the stage AG2R La Mondiale's Alexis Vuillermoz endured.

Climbing the Mortirolo, the 30-year-old suffered a severe asthma attack which caused him to crash and fall into a ravine. According to L'Equipe, Vuillermoz was treated at the roadside by the race doctor before finishing the stage in Ponte di Legno half an hour down from the winners.

The Frenchman later took to Twitter to explain the situation: 'A huge thank you to all the staff, to the buddies AG2RLMCyclisme but also to the organisation of giroditalia having put me in safety after a violent asthma attack in the Mortirolo that made me fall into a ravine... uphill!'

The Giro d'Italia returns today with Stage 17, a 181km medium mountain stage from Commezzadura to Anterselva.

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